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Yemeni protests turn into violent clashes

Yemeni anti-government protesters pray during demonstration outside Sanaa University to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh's step down after three decades in power on February 26, 2011 in Sanaa, Yemen. Important Yemeni tribal leaders, including those of the Hashid and Baqil, pledged to join protests today at a gathering north of the capital. UPI
Yemeni anti-government protesters pray during demonstration outside Sanaa University to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh's step down after three decades in power on February 26, 2011 in Sanaa, Yemen. Important Yemeni tribal leaders, including those of the Hashid and Baqil, pledged to join protests today at a gathering north of the capital. UPI | License Photo

SANAA, Yemen, March 14 (UPI) -- Security forces in Yemen fired gunshots and tear gas into a crowd protesting outside Sanaa University and injured 10 people, witnesses said.

The confrontation Sunday began when pro-government demonstrators and security forces established a roadblock to bar anti-government protesters from entering Change Square near the university, CNN reported. Protesters were allowed to leave but could not re-enter.

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Tension rose when anti-government protesters demanded they be allowed into the square and forced their way through the barricade, witnesses said.

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In Aden City, gunfire from security forces injured four protesters late Sunday, CNN reported. Earlier, three people in Aden City died from gunshot wounds when security forces tried to disperse an anti-government rally.

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Another person died in Dar Saad in Aden province when anti-government protesters charged into a government complex and set a police station on fire, a medical official said.

A Yemeni official said the actions were meant to disrupt security and spread fear, the government-run Saba news agency said.

High unemployment has fed much of the anger in Yemeni's younger population, which also cites government corruption and a lack of political freedom for its discontent.

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Late last week, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who promised not to see re-election, pledged to bring a new constitution to a vote by year's end and transfer government power to an elected parliamentary system.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned excessive force by security forces against peaceful demonstrators in Sanaa.

In a statement, Ban urged government and opposition groups to pursue talks to avert further deterioration of the security situation in the country.

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"The secretary-general calls on the government of Yemen to uphold international human rights standards and to investigate allegations of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations," the statement issued Sunday said.

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